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My daughter is thinking of joining the Peace Corps. Should I be worried?
She is a tall, pretty, spoiled city kid used to luxuries.

Marya Morevna

If it works like Russia, I have a couple of more rules; actually, games. Useful games.

1) Figure out who is following you. Most likely, you'll have at least one gov. based detail. Don't avoid them, but don't talk to them on a regular basis, or they'll switch the detail to someone else who doesn't feel as invested in you.. Make sure it's the person or car who follows you to work, not someone who is maybe hanging about whenyou collect money from the bank or the ATM or whatever, or just when you shop, but the person you tend to see at trains, busses, airports, and to and from work. IF YOU GET INTO REAL TROUBLE, as a woman, move physically closer to that person, or even ask them for help directly.
2) Don't bribe a conductor or a bus person, but just as you would on a social call, bring something nice for them for after your trip, if it's a long one. Magazines are good for the train conductors. I used to bring tubes of moisterizer, too, the little ones? The samples.Cassettes are good for the male conductors, and if you bring enough tapes you can always make more. Don't offer them at the begnning of the trip, but leave them as a thank you for a safe ride.Another tip- just don't carry anything of value.
3)Practice a look on the busses. The look says-I have absolutely nothing of interest to you. You get the look by thinking of the worst thing that could possibly happen to you, and imagining that it doesn't matter.
4) Find the closest Mormon mission. Before you go, find an alumn of the mission where you're going. I'm serious. Don't hang around them a lot in situ, unless you want to, but find out where they are in proximity to you. I'm not Mormon, but some very brave and cheerful and good people I know, both native to Russia and foreigners like myself, were. They put themselves in more danger than you can possibly imagine, and they have a LOT of tips for how to maintain integrity in...difficult circumstances.
5)The alcohol thing, the food thing. BRING ACTIVATED CHARCOAL. That stuff is the best. Essentially, it absorbs everything in your stomach and takes it out of your system, much better than kaopectate, which keeps it all in. Use it for every digestive ailment you can imagine, including food poisoning, or even viral stomach ailments. Just take lots of vitamins afterwards, and only use it when you really need it. IF YOU DRINK anything homemade, you might want to take some of the charcoal PDQ.
Here's a trick from the doctor's banquets: Show up about 20 minutes after the drinking has begun. If you must drink, or if the food is iffy, or if you're not sure who has drunk from what glass, eat a hunk of break and immediately have the drunkest person in the room pour you your shot. They'll slosh it all over the rim- in one shot, you sterilize the glass and you sterilize the contents of your stomach. After that, subtly substitute water or juice for the contents of the glass, and make sure your glass is never empty, or someone will fill it for you.
6. If you grab a ride off the street, pick the person in the worst looking car, riding ewith a woman is preferable, but someone alone is preferable to two men. Feel free to pass on the ride even after the person has stopped- they are also free to pass on giving you a ride. Never take the ride of someone who compliments you on your looks. By the way- in Nigeria? The rules are the opposite.
7. You'll be fabulous.


My mom spent 2 years in Romania teaching on a Fulbright, and this is pretty close to how she described things. She took some cartons of cigarettes for tips and bribes. Her apartment was bugged. She couldn't really go out at night, but there were occasions that groups of them did. Electricity was turned off a lot, to conserve it. Especially at night, so no lights at times. Same with water, around the times most people would be showering oddly enough.
She came home right before the Ceausescus were executed. I missed going by 1 week. I wish I had gone with her.


The item re - alcohol consumption is really interesting - I wonder if their alcoholism rates are high. I don't wonder that you are nervous - but you'll do great.

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